Last updated on November 28th, 2023.
There are many different definitions for spiritual awakening; it even has quite a few synonyms that are used interchangeably. If you are feeling uneasy about the world or hyper-aware of your surroundings, you may be asking yourself a very delicate question.
What does it mean to have a spiritual awakening? A spiritual awakening is the sudden awareness of your present self, and the connection you share with the universe.
It can seem overwhelming, so take a breath and read on to learn everything you need to answer the nagging question: what does it mean to have a spiritual awakening?
What is a spiritual awakening?
According to Endless Satsang, a spiritual awakening, or spiritual enlightenment, is the process by which the conscious is dissolved from the body with no remaining ego tendencies. In other words, it is a trade-off of the worries, stresses, and negative feelings in everyday life for inner peace through the act of discovering the true self.
However, this is not the only acceptable definition of a spiritual awakening. Tamara Lechner of The Chopra Center defines a spiritual awakening as the moment in which you stop looking towards the future or past and do not experience the present through an ego filter. In the absence of an ego, you are fully aware of your conscious being and everything that connects you to your surroundings.
Who Can Have a Spiritual Awakening?
Although it sounds like only masters of the craft who dedicate decades of their lives to practicing the methods necessary to have a spiritual awakening are the only ones who can achieve it, this simply is not true. Anyone and everyone has access to this enlightened consciousness, also referred to as “the awakened conscious” or “true self.”
The reason that not everyone has had a spiritual awakening already is the level of awareness each person has of their true self. For some people, awareness comes naturally and gradually through training and meditation. For others, the awareness comes suddenly and powerful through a moment of intense clarity. This is a spiritual awakening, and it is quick but everlasting.
Whether it comes as a vision of clarity or a slow process, the beauty of a spiritual awakening is that it can happen to anyone at any moment.
Difference Between Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment
Although they are used interchangeably by mistake, spiritual awakening and enlightenment are not the same states of mind. In the simplest terms, a spiritual awakening is the realization of the relationship between yourself and your surroundings, while enlightenment is the constant of this realization.
It may take years of training and inner reflection to reach a point of enlightenment, but it begins with a spiritual awakening. You must be aware of your place in the universe and the connections you have to it to tap into those connections.
Lechner uses a great metaphor in her article. She describes watching a film in a crowded movie theater. If the movie is powerful enough, it will bring you into its world. When the characters are creeping around the haunted house, the hairs on the back of your neck may stand up.
Then, someone three seats back coughs, and suddenly you are very aware that you are sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers all enjoying a similar experience. This is awakening; enlightenment would be the awareness of this disconnect the entire two-hour experience.
10 Common Signs You’re Having a Spiritual Awakening
Because of the intensity of the spiritual awakening, it can sometimes scare people who are, ironically, aware of the fact that they have been separated from their true selves. Again, it can be sudden for some people, while gradual for others. Regardless of how quickly the process occurs, there are some overlapping and common signs that you’re experiencing a spiritual awakening.
To help you identify whether you are experiencing an awakening event, here are the ten common signs you are experiencing a spiritual awakening.
1. Awareness of Personal Patterns
Up to this point, you may have simply lived your life without much thought. It has almost been like you’ve been on autopilot, following a strict pattern to get through each day. Until, one day, you become aware of yourself in a situation.
You may start to ask yourself some of these questions:
- Why am I doing this?
- What do I really want?
- Why do I feel this upset about that?
- How long have I been doing this?
- Am I happy?
These incredibly personal questions can be hard to face, which is why they may be pushed to the back of the mind for most people. It almost becomes a defense mechanism to handle the stresses of modern life. But it is a crucial moment for those who are moving towards a path of enlightenment and more conscious living.
To move toward a life of fulfillment, you must become aware of your present moments.
2. Feeling Connected to Your Surroundings
Just like in the example of being aware of your experience in a packed movie theater, you may be feeling a strong connection to your surroundings at any present moment. More importantly, this connection comes to you in the form of a deepened empathy.
In the most basic sense, empathy is the ability to experience, whether actually or metaphysically, the pain or feelings of another being. A common phrase associated with empathy is “to walk a mile in their shoes.”
This sudden desire for empathetic actions can come from spiritual awakening. As it is hard not to want to help those around you when you feel such a strong connection to them. It can come in many forms, such as:
- Volunteering. You may feel a desire to begin giving back to your community.
- Dietary change. Maybe you have become aware of the feelings of fear with slaughtered animals and have decided to cut back (or completely cut out) meat and animal by-products.
- Kindness. Even small gestures of kindness may have a more significant impact on your feeling of self with a desire to brighten the lives of those around you.
No matter how exactly the feeling of connection to your surroundings manifests itself, the message is still evident. You are on the pathway towards enlightenment through the spiritual awakening of your empathy and compassion.
3. Loss of Desire for Self-Definitions
A “self-definition” is how you present yourself to the world for the world to know who you are as quickly and nonverbally as possible. It can come in the form of how you dress, the brand names you prefer, political alignment, or how you spend your time and money.
Being aware of your self-definitions can be a sign of spiritual awakening as you will become conscious of how outside forces have influenced your identity or “self.” Maybe you’ve always known yourself as someone who is a cat lover or someone who hates a specific brand.
These small ways in which you would quickly define yourself are frail veils of attachments created by your surroundings. Through media, parents, experiences, and other external stimuli, you have created a persona of your true self.
But now, there is no desire to be defined by these limiting traits. Instead, there is a desire for reflection on how these experiences have shaped your thoughts, rather than the thoughts themselves.
4. A Desire for Inner Peace
It makes sense that after an emotional turmoil, such as learning who you thought you were was a collection of external thoughts, you would want to find inner peace from the noise. This desire for inner peace is an excellent indicator that you are having a spiritual awakening and are on the path towards enlightenment.
According to Success Consciousness, inner peace is not an absence of pain or suffering; instead, it is a lack of overthinking and dwelling on events both past and present. It is a state of freedom from the burden of carrying so many heartaches and tribulations.
From this freedom comes the chance to think more clearly and level with each new experience. So, it makes sense that a desire for inner peace comes to those who are increasing their consciousness of themselves in their own lives. This internal calmness can help make sense of the existential dread you may be feeling during this spiritual awakening.
5. Increased Sense of Intuition
Maybe you looked at the microwave right at the moment it was supposed to go off. Perhaps you knew who was calling you before even looking at the caller ID. Maybe you knew someone was unfriendly without any previous experiences with them. All these moments, both big and small, are examples of intuition.
Intuition is the “gut feeling” you have when interacting with your universe. Because a spiritual awakening allows you to have a more direct connection with everything surrounding you in any present moment, it would be reasonable to think that your sense of intuition would increase.
With the increased sense of intuition comes a heightened response to the world around you. You may find yourself making quicker decisions without as much thought, regretting less, and enjoying the moment more.
6. Awareness to Universal Signs
With your heightened senses to the connection of the universe, you may find yourself face to face with repeated words or events. These are not just mere coincidences, as everything is done by design. Instead, they could be signs from the universe to help guide you in the right direction.
For example, you may begin to see numbers being repeated throughout your day from the clock, phone numbers, or random billboards. Or maybe you hear a phrase being repeated multiple times in one week. Do not take these signs with a grain of salt; instead, look inwards as you have been doing to see what message the universe is trying to send you.
In some cases, you may even see the numbers, “1111” being repeated in your lifetime. According to Ryan Hart, it could mean that a guardian angel is trying to contact you or warn you of something. Although the idea of enlightenment is not tied to religion, that does not mean it has to be free of belief systems.
7. Craving Isolation
Even though empathetic thoughts and actions may seem even more rewarding now than ever, you may feel yourself wanting to pull away from everyone. This is because a spiritual awakening requires much inner reflection to achieve enlightenment. Even before enlightenment, you need to wade through these new thoughts and feelings, which will take time.
While it is essential to disconnect from others to reconnect with yourself, it is equally as important to be respectful to others when declining offers to socialize. It can be easy to lash out and push close friends and family away as these overwhelming emotions take hold.
Before you say or do something that you may regret later, here are some suggestions as to how to approach declining social offers:
- “Thank you for the invite, but I need to be alone right now.”
- “I would prefer some personal time to process my feelings.”
- “I am feeling overwhelmed right now and do not want to lash out at you unfairly.”
If you stay honest and respectful, you should be able to find the balance between socializing and alone time.
8. Death is not As Scary
At this point, you are probably beginning to realize that death is inevitable, but it does not scare you. This realization is part of having a spiritual awakening. This interesting stage may come about as a result of the awareness that the conscious mind is not connected to a physical body. Rather, it is always morphing to try and reach its true self.
There is also a relief that comes with being acutely aware of living in the present moment that you may be feeling suddenly. With less doubt of the past and no concern for the future, the idea of death seems more like a stepping stone instead of an end.
However, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the ideas of death, and it is bringing you dread rather than release. You may be experiencing an existential crisis. Any negative feelings that are making you uncomfortable beyond understanding should be met with the same steps as any other anxiety attack.
9. Growth in Self-Confidence
Part of having a spiritual awakening is being authentically yourself since you are free from the bonds of society. Instead of worrying about how you represent yourself, you may find that you are growing more and more comfortable in your own skin. This can come about from exploring what makes you happy and expressing those tendencies.
Being truly your most authentic self with no sense of ego can do wonders for your self-confidence and life in general. If you are finding yourself being naturally bolder with your feelings, style, or overall being, you may be having a spiritual awakening.
10. Higher Level of Overall Wellness
Wellness is defined as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort” (Dictionary.com). This is certainly true for someone going through a spiritual awakening. The ability to live in the present without ego may lead to a happier mindset that is free of stress. It can also help develop empathy and encourage kindness, which has a positive effect on the brain and your overall mood.
All in all, someone on the path of spiritual awakening will find their life flooded with kindness and peace after the necessary storm of inner turmoil and questioning.
Why is a spiritual awakening so painful?
According to “Spiritual Awakening and Pain: The Torment of Internal Resistance,” one of the main reasons a spiritual awakening is so painful is because of the stripping of the ego. For most of your life, your ego has served as protection against the world. It protected you from others getting too close and saw the world through the eyes of questioning if everything is a danger or not.
As you move along your journey towards enlightenment and finding inner peace, the ego begins to be separated from the mind to move closer to finding the true self. Taking away years of conditioning and replacing it with unaltered empathy is extremely taxing.
It can seem overwhelming to have so many feelings, thoughts, and questions all at once; this can be intensified if it feels as though you are the only one going through this hyper-awareness. Rest assured, the emotional pain is temporary and can be taken at your own pace. There is no rush to enlightenment, and you can’t know pleasure without pain.
How do you know if you are spiritually awakened?
The process of enlightenment is different for each person; however, knowing that you are spiritually awake is the first step for everyone. Because it is such a crucial beginning towards a new lifestyle, it is essential to know if you are genuinely spiritually awakened.
Besides the ten common signs that you are having a spiritual awakening (as stated above), to honestly know if you are spiritually awakened, you must reflect inwards. It is a process that will take time.
To help you identify if you are on the right path towards enlightenment through the beginning process of being spiritually awakened, here are three questions you can ask yourself:
- What am I feeling? If you can answer this question with one word, you may not be having a spiritual awakening quite yet. The process is convoluted with several emotions and thoughts. Because of this, it may take some time (and a few searches through the dictionary) to find the right words to describe your feeling. However, if you find that you cannot pinpoint one specific word to describe what you are feeling, you may be spiritually awakened.
- Am I happy? A simple question that you should ask yourself every day and in every situation: Am I happy? This grounding question may help you figure out if you are spiritually awakened as it takes acute awareness of your present situation to answer this question.
- Am I living in the present? A significant indicator of a spiritual awakening is the sudden awareness of the present moment. There is not a stressor caused by past worry or future endeavors as every moment is felt in its entirety. If you can confidently say, “yes, I am living in the present,” then you are spiritually awakened.
If you’re extremely curious about how you stand on the scale of spiritual awareness, here is a test you can take: https://raymaor.com/how-spiritually-awakened-are-you/
What Effect Does A Spiritual Awakening Have On Relationships?
In this heightened emotional state, it can be challenging to locate the exact words needed to explain to others how you are feeling. Because of this, it may seem increasingly difficult to maintain relationships with others.
As stated before, one of the common ways to know if you are having a spiritual awakening is the ache for isolation and self-reflection. According to Gostica, there are two main effects a spiritual awakening can have on your relationships: negative and positive.
Negative Effects on Relationships
Although self-reflection is an essential process in the journey towards enlightenment, it can harm your relationships. This can be especially true if you are pushing loved ones away in a hurtful capacity to achieve lonely silence.
Here is a list of possible negative things you may be unknowingly doing to push people away:
- Lashing out – Any aggressive words or behaviors that make you less than ideal to be around. Usually followed by words said, that would later be regretted.
- Canceling plans – If it’s the third time you’ve rescheduled a hangout session or date, you may be avoiding social situations in the hopes that the other person will stop trying.
- Quick aggravation – Things that once did not bother you are suddenly unbearably annoying. Do not let the overwhelming feelings of spiritual awakening lead you to a path of destruction.
Positive Effects on Relationships
However, not everything is negative! A spiritual awakening can bring your mind and body into a balance filled with inner peace and deepened empathy. This can lead to more positive, fulfilling relationships on a deeper level than you ever thought possible.
Some positive feelings that may come out of a relationship through a spiritual awakening are:
- A Higher level of closeness – You will feel closer to those that were able to support you through the process.
- Greater empathy – Not only will you have a deeper understanding of yourself, but you will be able to apply this newfound understanding to those around you.
- Deeper conversations – Although everyone is on their own level of spiritual awakening, you may find yourself engaging in more in-depth conversations with trusted people as you find your way through the questions.
Spiritual awakening may require tons of inner reflection and questioning, but that does not mean you have to take the journey alone!
10 Great Spiritual Awakening Quotes
As you feel your way through the messy world of a spiritual awakening setting you on your path towards enlightenment, it can be easy to get lost in the fog.
For added encouragement, here are ten great spiritual awakening quotes to help keep you on track from Conscious Panda:
- “Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle
- “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
- “The past has no power over the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle
- “Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.” – Elizabeth Bibesco
- “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.” – Native American Proverb
- “You can have a spiritual awakening and discover a new side of you at any age. And best of all, love can happen at any age. Life can just start to get exciting when you’re in your 40s and 50s. You have to believe that.” – Salma Hayek
- “This above all; to your own self be true.” – William Shakespeare
- “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle
- “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour
- “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
Although it is called a “spiritual awakening,” it is more of a spiritual journey – a self-reflective process that requires plenty of questioning, time, and understanding. You must be patient with yourself if you ever want to be patient with the world. It can be scary to face the idea of not being connected to your true self, but through awareness, you can learn to live in the present moment and reconnect with everything around you.